The new royal baby has finally arrived! As we wait in anticipation to find out the name of the newest heir to the throne, baby experts from The Baby Show share their advice on the next steps for Meghan and Harry – and all new mums and dads who are sharing in this experience.
Milli Hill, Author of The Positive Birth Book and Birth Expert at The Baby Show says: “Meghan has been absolutely amazing in her birth preparations, clearly researching all her options and not being afraid to say exactly what she and Harry want and need for the birth, which is just fantastic. I hope all women follow her example – it’s their body, their baby and their choice! Because she has done her homework, she will no doubt have given thought to the time after the baby is born too.”
That First Few Hours
Milli says: “Meghan will know that the first hour – a time I call ‘The Hour of Power’ – is a really special and important time, and that if you can, it’s great to delay any non-essential checks and just spend that time skin-to-skin with your newborn, perhaps initiating breastfeeding if this is your choice. Low lights, calm atmosphere and minimal interruptions are really important during this time for the production of oxytocin – just as they are during the birth.”
Rachel Fitz-Desorgher, author of Your Baby Skin to Skin and baby expert at The Baby Show adds: “In the heady days immediately after birth, parents often feel a mixture of excitement, wonder and exhaustion. A first labour can often take a couple of days and nights to build up and then another full day of really hard work to get to the point of birthing, and then the mother still has to find the energy to have the baby! This tremendous effort really takes it out of the body, and women and their equally shattered partners need time and space to rest and recuperate in a peaceful and gentle environment. Some years ago we used to call this time the “Babymoon”. Just like after those anxious weeks of preparing for a wedding, this is a time to lock the doors and spend some vital days laughing, sleeping, cuddling and crying with exhaustion and relief.”
Keep a Calm environment
Milli adds: “Many couples choose to keep this calm environment going for a bit longer after the birth, with only a few visitors or even no visitors at all for the first few days, as they rest and get to know their baby. The idea of a woman, on her feet, hair all done, make-up on and the baby tucked up in a cot is thankfully getting a bit dated! Modern progressive women like Meghan are researching the importance of bonding and know that spending time cuddled up in bed, skin-to-skin with their baby (and with dads and partners too), is a really valuable way to spend this time. It’s also great for new mums to eat well – lots of fresh healthy choices and a bit of cake too, and recover from the birth.”
Lesley Gilchrist, birth trauma expert and founder of MyExpertMidwife.com says: “Whilst having visitors seems like a normal thing to do, they shouldn’t feel obliged to have any visitors other than close friends and family with whom they feel comfortable enough with to ask them to do some housework, make meals or drinks or leave them on their own while they both (partner included) have a rest in private. Everyone else can wait one, two, or three weeks, however long it takes – this is a time in your life they may only do once, so shouldn’t feel guilty.”
Really get to know your baby
Rachel says: “Straight after birth, our senses are heightened so that we can quickly get to know our own baby’s unique smell and cry intimately. As those early days and weeks go on, our bodies need to produce the right hormonal mix for relaxing, falling in love and for making milk but, for this to happen, we need space and the freedom to snuggle our babies, skin to skin, in our arms without any pressure to put them down or get them into some impossible and mythical routine. Our babies need this close skin to skin contact to regulate their heart rate, breathing and temperature, and, with food only the turn of a head away, these long, leisurely in-arms days also ensure that infection is kept at bay in the vulnerable early days.”
Lucy Shrimpton, The Sleep Nanny© and sleep expert at The Baby Show says: “As a nation, it is common practice for mothers in the UK to leave hospital with their new-borns very quickly after the birth, even within hours in some cases! In other cultures, it is common practice to provide a rest and recovery period for mum and help is on hand for the new baby in those first few days. For many women, having this recovery time makes for improved post-natal mental health.
“It’s important to remember that not only has the body gone through an immense ordeal of birthing a child, there are also big hormone changes – emotion, demand from others – and when you throw in the prospect of lots of visitors, possible fussing, and people asking questions and offering opinions it can be overwhelming! Sleep deprivation can also put more strain on a mother’s mental well-being so the recovery time is vital to avoid any signs of post-natal depression which is very common.”
Lesley adds: “Those first few days with a new baby are so important; not just for bonding as a family but to ensure that nothing disrupts the delicate balance of hormones that are necessary for milk production and recovery.
“For mum, the recovery from a birth, regardless of which type of birth, takes time. Eating well and drinking plenty of fluids are an important part, but so too is rest and having your baby close to you to ensure that they feel settled and safe. For their partner, recovery from supporting labour and birth, whilst also caring for both mum and baby takes time too – they need just as much rest and support too.”
Choosing what’s right for you
Milli says: “Meghan’s choice to stay out of the spotlight at this time is a great decision. However, that’s not a criticism of Kate’s choice to be photographed on the steps of the Lindo! Every woman chooses what feels right for her and shouldn’t be judged for her choices. Meghan might find that she feels totally fantastic after the birth and actually wants to do a photo-call. If she decides to do this, that’s also a great decision. Women know what’s best for them and their families.”
Rachel adds: “It’s really time for Meghan and Harry to shut the world out, hunker down, gaze in awe at their beautiful new baby and have a wonderful “Babymoon”. We’ll see you on the other side, ready to cheer and join in the celebration.”
Lucy concludes: “Some say it is their duty to share their momentous occasion with the public but I believe that is an unfair expectation and pressure to place on Meghan and Harry.”
Royal or not, we can only wish for a safe and healthy new baby, and mum. I encourage everyone to respect the wishes of others and respect ourselves when it comes to our choices and recovery needs after a new baby arrives.”
The Baby Show, with MadeForMums, will take place at the Birmingham NEC from Friday 17th until Sunday 19th May.
For more information visit thebabyshow.co.uk/nec
Photo credit: Chris Allerton ©️Sussex royal